Tag Archives: original poems by geul

Rose-tinted Life by Ki Hyeong-do

(translated from the Korean by geul)

A man in his prime opens the door and enters
As he takes off his hat, his salt and pepper hair,
like his shabby overcoat, is revealed
He pushes all that is his into a creaky wooden chair
he wraps his healthy and greedy hands
around a ridiculously small cup
Has he ever, even once, with those large hands,
grabbed a likely opponent by the scruff of his neck
The man is silent, instead of moving his eyes aimlessly,
he is exploiting certain experiences, focusing on one place,
To unravel the knot of crowded events, how many cruel customers did he glower
***at,
like that of those who have tasted doubt and temptation many times over
Those shoulders that resolutely refuse any and all disorder of the body
those lips that seemed to be moved by a certain jealousy
ears hidden by a strand of hair, that certainly would have dreamed of being the
***head
However, who would dare to take on that man’s responsibility
The man continues to remain silent, he pulls something from his thick coat
as if he’d just thought of it for the first time
thrusting aside the dogged resistance of loneliness,
as if steeled for any kind of showdown
the man looks around, the expression that walks above his face
He pushes all that is his into a creaky wooden chair
with it he begins to dig into the tabletop
his burly frame bending forward, ploddingly
but anxiously, supplying strength to his own command

I hate life

 

poem in Korean

Advertisements

Chungnamdangjin Woman by Jang Jeong-il

(translated from the Korean by geul)

Where could she have gone, the woman from Chungnamdangjin?
She who left me after violating me
snatching the virginity defended for twenty-three years and gifting me with syphilis
Chungnamdangjin woman, I think I’m going to have to hate you
Turning me into a man with her ardor like a power plant
I don’t think I can hate her
Chungnamdangjin woman, my wish was to marry the woman I first slept with
My life’s wish was to live all my life with the woman I first held in my arms
living together without breaking up
having a child with the woman whom I first locked lips with
Naming my first daughter that the woman I first kissed lays in my arms was my my life’s wish
But you got away – “I’m a very bad woman”
Taking a taxi you got away – “Don’t look for me”
Taking a yellow taxi you vanished with your eyes all red
I should’ve memorized the number on the back of the taxi
Where did you hide, Chungnamdangjin woman, with a drop of my saliva
on your small lips, how can you smile with pleasure?
You who said a man and a woman didn’t need a place to lie down
Chungnamdangjin woman, you who laughed haha saying you lived
near a power plant as a child, giggling, Chungnamdangjin woman
Maybe that’s why at the Dangjin thermoelectric power plant in my dream
A woman’s face as black as coal shooting up terrifyingly inside the furnace
Chungnamdangjin woman’s face
under a street light, round like her face, I am standing, I stand tall with regret
Actually what I wanted, what I secretly wanted was that she would go away
Chungnamdangjin woman, she stands under the dim lamp
of the standing-only bar under the lamp that’s freckled with fly droppings
Does that mean I abandoned you rather than you abandoning me?
Or did we secretly abandon each other? and why?
And why is the fate of our 1960 generation such as it is?
The love I made with the Chungnamdangjin woman making the beast with two backs
will become a sordid poem bruited about by idle people
spread around between heaven and earth until one day the rumor reaches the velvety
ears of that Dangjin woman who’ll giggle
And the rumor will reach the ears of my future fiancee
and when she asks in a soft voice “Was she pretty? How was she?”
Love, I shall fall into the abyss of memory, Chungnamdangjin woman
she whose name I’ve forgotten

 

 

 

poem in Korean

 


Flower (꽃) by Ki Hyeong-do (기형도)

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

On a day when my soul flames up

in the garden where your heart grows sick

I will become your blood

hotly spewed all the night

and rise up as a flower.

*

If it’s you

I would gladly have my waist cut

*

I will sew up your heart

with my close breath

*

If I lay my head in the place where the wind blows

I could happily fall asleep standing.

 

poem in Korean

 

 

 

 

 


I like all frustrated things by Kim Kyeong-mi

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

Sleet that failed to become plush snow
Cow wheat that failed to become magnolia blossoms
The call that doesn’t come and the plundered savings
*** account.
Your letter
that passes me by to go to another address

*

I like the attitude of the frustrated
With the forehead to the floor
Things that have looked down at the world of roots
Transparently like a window pane
Like a god in heaven who gets on all fours and looks
***down

 

poem in Korean


Vallejo and his pants

 

Vallejo meditated on ways to make his pants last

*

*

In the end you kneel
before physics

*

when it gets too cold in Michigan
stray kittens lose their paws to frostbite
(what do they do after that?)

*

Armenians shed family
on the long march
like your lover doing a striptease
all the way to the bedroom
(what is obscene?)

*

Throw darts at life at history
it’s hard to miss an atrocity


Memo to Myself by Kim Kyeong-mi

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

About the time the sunflower, exhausted from the sun, leaned its thin neck on the wall to rest a while. I woke up and found that I was twenty-four years old.

*

God was a haughty hide-and-seek game, in which even though I hid, fretting up to my hair, He didn’t make an effort to find me, so it was always less enjoyable; and as other people seemed, as always, like pointless tears.

*

In the twenty-fourth year autumn arrived as sound of voices fumbling. Exterior to dreams, each day someone seemed to be standing outside so I ran out and opened the door to find the cosmos flower greeting me shaking the dew from its shoulders as if nothing were happening. I wanted to embrace its thin waist, come inside and have a child. A child with red gums like the inside of a pomegranate.

*

It might have been all right to have become a little bit happier at twenty-four, in which year nothing happened, after all. It might have been enjoyable to have engaged the young man with the thick lips, who seemed like an outlaw, in a battle of lies. Perhaps now only a child with teeth like snow could smile at this much happiness and deception remaining. Though it appears nothing is happening.

*

Could not a flower bloom on a cliff could you not walk on the river could you not continue a letter left unfinished if you suddenly wake to find yourself twenty-five? I am sorry you have not heard from me for a long time. It was because I wanted to live lightly like a piece of thread. Without being weighed down by anything at all.

 

poem in Korean


Like the wind going away after meeting the water lily by Seo Jeong-Ju (1915-2000)

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

Disappointed,
but
not very disappointed
just somewhat disappointed,*

 

it’s a parting,
however
not a forever parting
a parting with plans to meet again
in our next life,

*

not a wind
that’s on its way to meet
the water lily
but a wind taking its leave…

*

not a wind that’s going away
after meeting a few days before
but like a wind that’s going away
after meeting several seasons before…

 

poem in Korean


Heavenward (귀천) by Cheon Sang-byeong (천상병)

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

I shall return to heaven.

*

When dawn alights, hand
in hand with the vanishing dew

*

I shall return to heaven.
Together with the red glow of the sun,
just the two of us playing at the foot of the
mountain when the clouds beckon

*

I shall return to heaven.
The day the picnic ends in this lovely world,
I shall go and say
it was lovely. . . .

 

poem in Korean


Poor Maiden by Heo-nan-seol-heon (1563-1589)

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

Wielding metal scissors
Ten fingers numbing in the night cold
Making wedding clothes for another
They say she lives alone
as one year turns into the next

 

poem in Korean


 

In winter
trees lose all inhibition
their arms reach up
in shamanistic contortions
sweeping the air weeping the air
beseeching to the right and the left
up and down
all is bare
why
oh why
why
cross
and silent reproach